If you love art, want to get better and be a more productive artist, but find yourself thinking about it rather than making more art. Now’s the time to change. It’s never too late to bring art back into your life!
If you’ve decided you’re going to do it, then here’re some tips ways to help you on your artistic journey.
Art a Little Everyday
Of course, that’s easy to say, and much harder to do.
If you start making art every day, this is essentially forming a new habit, turning your creativity into a muscle. While it’s not as romantic as having a muse come whisper in your ear, it’s necessary if you want to 1) get better and 2) make more art.
I’ve heard the objection, “I can’t force myself to be creative, I can only do it when I feel inspired.”
When I was younger I used to think like that too, but my most creative periods are when I do art every day. Thinking like this is fine for those who don’t mind having art sprinkled in their life. But art will remain like that: sprinkles.
Waiting for inspiration to spirit you away every-now-and-then is a waste of time. Be proactive—seek out inspiration.
To be more creative, you need to create more. In doing this, you’ll discover amazing creative avenues you never even knew were inside of you!
So, think about what you want to achieve, take a pen to paper and write it down. This is your reminder. This is where you’ll find motivation when you’re tired and would rather veg out on the couch.
Daily Art Goals
Now you need a way to get there. Make a small, daily goal—something you can easily achieve. Something you can do even when you’re exhausted, like sketching for 10 minutes in the evening or painting for 15 minutes after work.
Set the bar low. It’s better for our motivation and self-esteem to overachieve than to underachieve. You can always do more than the bare minimum (actually, I hope you do!). But if you’re having a hard day and feeling like not doing much, it’s better to be able to make a little headway on your art projects than none at all.
The most important part: do this every day you possibly can. Then check it off—on a calendar or a list or something—so you can see how far you’ve come. Visual cues work for visual artists! This is great for your motivation, especially when you’re in the middle of long, difficult projects.
If life happens, and you can’t do art for the day, well, just pick it up and do it the next day.
Pick yourself up and move on, but don’t let slacking become the habit.
Enjoy the Creative Process
Remember: You’re painting because you like painting. Or drawing—or whatever kind of art you like to create! While this is a rather obvious thing to say to other artists, we often take it for granted and overlook this fundamental fact.
Sometimes it feels like a chore. Something that has to be done. We stress out. It’s a source of anxiety. How did it become like this in the first place?
Maybe you’re not finding your flow state, maybe you’re caught up in making it big. Or maybe you’re just stuck. This is a terrible place to be, but it’s possible to overcome it.
Regardless of the reason, sometimes it’s easy to forget that we create in the first place because we like creating. So take a break and remember the parts you enjoy. Remember all the things you like about painting. Picture them in your head. Pretend you’re doing it. Does it make you smile? Do you get butterflies in your stomach?
Learn through play
If you get stuck on a project, take an adult time-out and play. Yes, play with your medium. Give yourself 15 minutes and make something silly or fantastical—something that you just enjoy doing just for the heck of it. Do something to remind yourself that you love making art.
Do it for yourself, no one else. Give in to reckless abandonment and toss out expectations out the window. Experiment. Explore. This is what creativity is about!
It’s not about the results, it’s about the process. And the more we enjoy the process, the more productive we’ll be.
I’ve even had creative works I do just for fun turn out to be some of my favorites! It breathes life into stale projects and breaks up the tedium. So if you’re taking yourself or your work a little too seriously, indulge your curious and silly creative side.
revitalize your passion
It’s easy to lose sight of our purpose, especially when it feels like we’re not getting anywhere. With all the shiny distractions available to us, it’s easy to forget what we’re doing and why.
So sit down and remember your artistic goals. Where you want to go, what you want to do.
Take some time to answer these questions:
Can you do it?
Will it work?
Is it worth it?
Are your answers: Yes, yes, and yes?
Great—that means you’re on the right track! (If you answered no, then maybe you should rethink what you’re doing and why. Try starting an art project you’re capable of finishing.)
These questions measure three important things: your belief in your ability to accomplish your goal, your belief in your ability to succeed, and your belief in the consequences of your actions. If you believe these things, you’ll feel more competent and boost your motivation.
You’re doing something you wanted. You’ve chosen this. It’s your choice. You’re not forced into this; you want this. This is empowerment, and it’s wonderful. Embrace it! This is an exciting opportunity, so find it within yourself to make the most of it.
Whenever you’re wondering what you’re doing and feeling a lack of motivation, remember your resolve and hold it in your mind until it burns bright.
Once it’s glowing, don’t let it fade. Get to creating right away. Pick up your sketchbook or your palette. No distractions. Turn off your phone, don’t check Instagram. Single-mindedly pursue your dreams of being an artist.
Live in Art
Depending on where you are, being an artist can lonely. Especially if you don’t have any friends or family who understand your creative side. Being isolated handicaps your creative growth, so you must change this.
It’s important to fill your life with both art and artists. Companionship not only feels nice—it’s contagious. There’s something called motivation contagion, where if someone you like enjoys an activity then you’ll start enjoying it too. Use this to your advantage and make new connections.
You don’t have to pack up and move to art school to do this; some of us don’t have that luxury. There are many ways to fill your life with art and other artists to find community, connection, and motivation.
It’s great if you can go to art classes or if you have friends who are artists. You can also study art online through tutorials, or by talking with other artists in groups or forums. Interact with other artists. Artists post videos, go watch them. Get involved!
Look at art books and magazines. Think about art all the time. Analyze pictures. Think, “How would I draw this”? when you see something interesting. Sketch people in your head as you’re standing in line at the grocery store.
Talk about it, write about it, read about it—you’ll want to make art of your own. And then do it. Keep a sketch pad with you. Make sure your art supplies are easily accessible. The fewer obstacles in the way, the more likely you are to pick them up.
Treat Yourself with Compassion
You’re going to make mistakes at times. Maybe you aren’t making as much art as you like yet. Or maybe you’re wondering why your drawings look so stiff.
Or maybe it’s just one of those days when you feel like you’re failing at everything.
At some point, you’ll likely get discouraged, wish you were better, and wonder if it’s even worth trying. You’ll want to give up because you make too many mistakes.
Feelings like this are bound to happen at some point but don’t give in—keep trying. You can do it! When we overcome obstacles, we find strength in ourselves. This resolve builds character. When you keep trying, it makes you a better person and a better artist.
Accept yourself as you are now, your strengths, and your flaws—everything. You can change anything about yourself. No need to beat yourself up, this only creates anxiety that will further hamper your artistic pursuits.
You’re in the process of getting better—which is the best place to be. Of course, you’re going to make mistakes. Everyone does! Mistakes are a part of the learning process. To avoid making mistakes, it’s necessary to be comfortable with making them. This will help you in every aspect of life.
I struggle with perfectionism, and while I like to think it’s beneficial, I know that more often than not it holds me back. Fear of failure. Fear of making mistakes. Listening to these fears prevents me from living my best life. I want to skip the clumsy learning process and be perfect. By expecting too much of myself, I lose out on improving—and on living.
Being kind to yourself doesn’t mean you can excuse yourself for being lazy; it means accepting your mistakes and working to improve every single day.
Who Do You Want to Be?
Lately, I’ve started trying to be the person I love. This has enriched my life in so many ways! To me, a “person I love” means being someone kind and caring, someone who works hard to overcome adversary, someone who isn’t afraid of making mistakes and lives life with a voracious curiosity.
Figure out what kind of person want to be to help yourself. Knowing this keeps me from focusing on who I am now (and all the flaws that come with it), so I can keep moving forward.
Always be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with compassion. Tell yourself it’s okay to make mistakes—this is how you get better! Examine what you’ve done and find opportunities to improve and you’ll be amazed at your growth as an artist.